Environmental Impacts of Agriculture
Published on: 11.07.2019
Agriculture is one of the most essential sectors in sustaining human life, yet agricultural practices employed all around the world have a vast impact on the environment and natural resources.
Therefore, when thinking about an idea or project that’s related to this sector, it would important to think innovatively. This means to offer a solution without creating new problems. On the contrary, you can be innovative by trying to fix the existing issues. If you have an idea or project don’t hesitate to join the Entrepreneurship Campus competitions.
Agriculture at the same time contributes to climate change and is affected by climate change
As the world population is rising, the need for more agricultural land is rising accordingly. Hence, the numerous unsustainable environmental costs are rising too, the need for land is the largest cost.
Based on the World Bank data, about 37.4 percent of the world’s total land area was considered agricultural land in 2016.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), over the next 30 years, many agriculture-related environmental problems will remain serious. However, some problems may deepen more slowly than in the past and some may even be reversed.
The demand for agricultural land is the biggest cause of forest loss. Forests worldwide are home to thousands of animal and plant species and habitat destruction has also increased human-wildlife conflict.
According to WWF, around half of the world’s original forests have disappeared, and they are still being removed at a rate 10x higher than any possible level of regrowth. As tropical forests contain at least half the Earth’s species, the clearance of some 17 million hectares each year is a dramatic loss.
Water consumption and pollution
Irrigated agriculture is the largest users of water globally.
Besides the high demand for land, agriculture is highly dependent on water. Water is crucial both for crop and animal farming. Currently, there are various issues related both to agriculture and water. Climate change is causing water constraints in many agricultural regions. Farmers face competition from growing urban areas when it comes to water consumption.
Meanwhile, salination due to the rising sea levels is expected to have an impact both on water and land.
In the meantime, while the sector water risks, it is a major polluter of groundwater and waterways.
Think about optimizing the use of water especially if you live in a dry area.
According to WWF, half of the topsoil on the planet has been lost in the last 150 years. In addition to erosion, soil quality is affected by other aspects of agriculture.
Sustainable solutions would help to intensify production while reducing the impacts of agriculture on the environment. The Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change recommend a list of steps to achieve the above-mentioned goal.
- Develop, enable and reward multi-benefit farming systems that enable more productive and resilient livelihoods and ecosystems
- Present strategies for minimizing ecosystem degradation and rehabilitating degraded environments, with emphasis on community-designed plans.
- Empower marginalized food producers (particularly women) to increase the productivity of a range of appropriate crops by strengthening land and water rights, increasing access to markets, finance and insurance, and enhancing local capacity (for example through farmer and community-based organizations).
- Identify and modify subsidies (such as for water and electricity) that provide incentives for farmers to continue agricultural practices that deplete water supplies or destroy native ecosystems.
- Introduce compensation schemes that target the poor.
- Couple economic incentives for sustainable intensification of agriculture with strengthening governance of land tenure and land zoning to prevent further loss of forests, wetlands, and grasslands.
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